Review: Rocky: A Horror Show provides another alt-Christmas delight at Wardrobe Theatre


7th December 2016


The Wardrobe Theatre has become renowned for its annual movie mash-up anti-Christmas show, with previous hits including Muppits Die Hard and last year’s Goldilock, Stock and Three Smoking BearsThis year is no different, with the Theatre providing a smash hit must-see combination of Rocky and the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

The concept is brilliant – working class Rocky, played superbly by Katy Sobey, takes to the ring because he “can’t sing or dance” and dreams of taking on the prize fighter-turned-recluse Apollo Creed. That opportunity comes when Creed (Harry Humberstone) arrives on the scene, dazzling in suspenders with bollocks peeking out from a red thong a la Dr Frank-N-Furter. He offers Rocky the chance to win 100,000 Euros if he beats him in 12 rounds, an offer Rocky cannot resist.

It’s all fantastically entertaining stuff from director Tom Brennan, with some superbly daft and memorable moments. Emma Keaveney-Roys channels Richard O’Brien’s Riff Raff as she rollerblades around the stage. James Newton’s dragged-up Adrian romances Rocky, and muses that “if butterflies in my tummy were money I’d make a killing”. Best of all is Tom Crosley-Thorne’s music, riffing from both Rocky and Rocky Horror Picture Show to provide some truly memorable verses.

Forget your antiquated gender roles;

‘cos we’re mother fucking fucking every hole.

Unexpectedly, the show also provides a soothing relief from the bizarre terror of the US elections. Rocky’s friend Paulie (Keaveney-Roys) parades around in a Make America Great Again cap while making fawning compliments about Rocky’s arse and thighs. He sings a misogynistic song which includes the lines “women like it when you call them girls” and “all you need to do is grab ’em by the pussy”. When Rocky is cut in the ring, his blood comes out as the star spangled banner because he is an embodiment of “the American Dream”. Again, it’s all very silly but very effective material, which adds up to make Rocky: A Horror Show another must-see Christmas treat from the Wardrobe Theatre.

Conal Dougan